Thursday, November 12, 2015


When my 8x great granduncle Thomas Barrett Jr's daughter was accused of witchcraft she
was imprisoned in Boston, it caused hardship for the entire family.  William Waters includes
two documents in his History of Chelmsford, the first of which is this petition Thomas submitted to Governor Phips and the colonial government, asking for Martha's release.       

To his Excy. Sr. William Phips, Knt. Capn Genll, and Governor.
in Cheife of their Majttes Province of the Massachusetts Bay in
New England and to the Honed. Council thereof.
The Humble Petition of Thomas Barrett of Chelmsford in New
England, in behalf of his Daughter Martha Sparkes, wife of
Henry Sparkes who is now a Souldier in their Majties Service att
the Easterne Parts, and soe hath beene for a Considerable Time,
Humbly Showeth

That yor Petitionrs Daughter hath Layne in Prison in Boston for the Space of Twelve months and Five days, being Committed by Thomas Danforth, Esq the Late Depty Governor. upon suspicion of Witchcraft, Since which noe Evidence hath appeared against her in any Such matter, neither hath any Given bond to prosecute her nor doth any one att this day accuse her of any such thing as yor Petitionr knows of. That Yor Petitionr hath ever since kept two of her children—the one of 5 years ye other of 2 years old, 'wch hath been a considerable Trouble and charge to him in his poore & meane Condition; besides yor Petitionr hath a Lame antient & sick wife, who for these 5 yeares & upwards past hath beene soe afflicted: as that shee is altogether rendred uncapable of affording her self any help, wch much augments his Trouble.

Yor Poore Petitionr Earnestly and humbly Intreates Yor E'cy & honrs. to take his distressed condition into yor consideracon, And that you will please to order ye releasemt. of his Daughtr. from her confinemt. Whereby shee may returne home to her poore children to look after them, haveing nothing to pay the charge of her Confinemt.
 And yor Petitionr as in duty bound shall ever pray,
Nov. 1, 1692. &c.
[Massachusetts Archives, Vol. 135, p. 62, doc. 64.]

-pp 574-575
The History of Chelmsford,  printed for the town by Courier-Citizen Company, Lowell, Ma 1917

How did the Governor and his Council respond? I'll discuss that next.

To be continued.

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